|Format||LP Swirl Vinyl|
No Thievery, Just Cool is the fourth album in as many years from Glaswegian jangle-pop outfit U.S. Highball, comprised of lifelong friends Calvin Halliday and James Hindle.
This time around, the boys decided to put the neighbourhood to work, enlisting a host of friends and external collaborators to beef up their characteristically propulsive pop nuggets. Jacob Ewald--frontman of recent tourmates Slaughter Beach, Dog--duets with James on a soaring version of The Mr. T Experience’s "Big, Strange, Beautiful Hammer," and Manda Rin--one third of Glasgow indie legends Bis--lends her trademark emphatic yelp to the effervescent "Tiny Partick." On album closer "Out of Time," Aussie stalwarts Darren Hanlon and Shelley Short provide sun-soaked harmonies that elevate the song’s ruminative coda to something transcendent, while Joe Howe--typically known to traffic in jittery electronics--unleashes a rousing saxophone solo slap-bang in the middle of "Paris 2019."
The record was masterfully mixed by Melbourne-based legend-in-the-
making Snowy--best known for his work with The Ocean Party and Ciggie Witch--whose ardent ear for detail helped breath fresh life into the songs during the mixing process, bringing out the best in Halliday and Hindle’s unorthodox arrangements.
Mastering duties were handled once again by Ian Farmer--also of Slaughter Beach, Dog--further cementing his status as the band’s de-facto third member.
As ever, U.S. Highball have fashioned a densely-populated lyrical world that’s at once surrealistic and chock-full of kitchen sink detail, with songs frantically ushering the listener from Buchanan Street to Boulevard Saint-Michel in the space of a single hook-stuffed chorus. "Irresponsible Holiday"--arguably the album’s most urgent earworm--revels in the workaday minutiae of office life, the aforementioned "Paris 2019" alludes to brushing up against overly-opinionated strangers on the streets of the City of Lights, while "Marjorie Says" is a disarmingly earnest love letter to Calvin’s dog.
Throughout the half-hour of power that comprises No Thievery, Just Cool, what ultimately stands out is the band’s steadfast and unwavering commitment to melody above all. Whether crafting breezy college rock rippers or 80s-indebted slices of eccentric new wave, in the universe of U.S. Highball, the chorus is king.
1. See You In Hell
2. London Colin
3. Adjacent Donovan
4. Tiny Partick
5. Irresponsible Holiday
7. Big, Strange, Beautiful Hammer
9. Paris 2019
10. Picnic At Doughnut Groyne
11. Marjorie Says
12. Out Of Time